When I worked at the World’s Biggest Bookstore we used to come up with little games to help us kill time. The Movie Game, the Hand-Loop Game, The Game, and, in a horrifying combination of nerdiness and creativity: the Super-Hero Originality game.
The premise is simple; name a Marvel Comics or DC Comics character that you believe can carry their own monthly title. Providing evidence is crucial – if they have had their own series, or currently have a monthly title, then your case is made. Otherwise, you have to come up with a pitch of your own to convince your peers that this protagonist can carry a monthly book.
As an added challenge there are a few guidelines to guarantee that the character is truly original:
- The character must be from the mainstream DC or Marvel Universe. Sorry, no Ultimates or New Universe or 2099 or Wildstorm or anything like that. Core Universe!
- Their first appearance has a cover date of January 1980 or later. That doesn’t sound tough, but there really aren’t that many characters under 30 years old.
- They can’t be a mutant. Not to hate on the X-Men, but in the late 80s and early 90s “(s)he is a mutant with a murky past!” became the de facto Marvel Comics origin, and it doesn’t strike me as a particularly creative background for a character. It doesn’t provide motivation or any kind of character depth.
- No legacy characters. I love Jamie Reyes, but, again, he’s a character who is the latest in a long line of similarly named and costumed heroes. That is, by definition, not original.
- No derivatives. Sorry She-Hulk, Red Hulk and Blue Hulk. Don’t waste our time, Conner Kent. Like legacy characters, the idea is to avoid protagonists clearly based on well-established characters.
One slow Sunday at the store my co-worker Jared and I put together a short list that met all these criteria, while remaining viable choices for ongoing series. Please, comment and see if you can add to it:
- Booster Gold
- The Sentry
- Wild Dog
- Venom (Eddie Brock or Angelo Fortunato but not Mac Gargan)
- Amanda Waller
- Terror Inc.
Can anyone add to this list? There must be more characters that can fill it out. If your hero has not had a monthly series before (or currently) please make sure to explain why you think they can carry their own book.
*Deadpool is a pretty contentious choice. He’s not a mutant, but he is definitely a part of the X-Men mythos. Also his powers are literally a derivative of Wolverine’s healing factor. Still, he’s not an obvious rip-off of Wolverine. He’s definitely a borderline choice.